Our Story

Gentle Hands is a child and youth welfare agency meant to be on the front lines of rescue (in coordination with Local Government Units) and rehabilitation of the medical, social, psychological, and educational needs of at-risk children and youth, advocating for the rights of children and working towards improving human community life through the love of Jesus and family centered care.

Gentle Hands is a ministry dedicated to helping the urban people of the Philippines for nearly two decades. Over 5,000 babies have been born at Gentle Hands since it began and our medical outreaches have extended over several areas of the Philippines from the Northern Mountains to Smokey Mountain in downtown Manila, as well as into other countries such as Myanmar and India.

At its core Gentle Hands is working towards improving human community life through the love of Jesus and family centered care.

image of Denie and Dennis Heppner

Our Founders

Thirty years ago, Denie Heppner, a Canadian humanitarian missionary, made a crucial decision to give up her ordinary life as missionary wife and mother and venture into an unfamiliar world of poverty and squalor. In 1989, she began using her skills as a nurse midwife and did her best to give indigent women hope of better medical care and treatment in childbirth. In August of 1993, Gentle Hands was founded as a Non-Government Organization (NGO) to operate as a birthing clinic to reach out to these urban poor women and their babies. This organization stayed on the cutting edge of modern midwifery for ten years, “changing the face of childbirth” in the Philippines.

…30 years in Asia

Dennis and Denie Heppner have lived in the Philippines for the past 3 decades. They have reached out to all of Asia as well, especially India. They are the founders of Gentle Hands Inc. as well as the thriving ministry of the downtown outreach center, Church of God Makati.

They raised their four older children in the Philippines and then adopted their little Filipina daughter Emma in 2006.

They love the Philippines. It is their heart’s home. This is their testimony: “Wherever we are as disciples of Christ, we must shine for Jesus and do His will. Location is not the point- attitude is. The Great Commission is our passion. And until Jesus returns, we will “win souls, make disciples, train leaders, and reach our world!”

Dennis and Denie Heppner

Charity and Evan Graff

Our Directors

In 2000, Charity Heppner-Graff, the eldest daughter of Denie Heppner, moved to the Philippines with her family to help expand the services of Gentle Hands. In 2001, Charity and her husband founded Gentle Hands Educational Foundation, hoping to bring education to street kids and out-of-school youth. They taught children to read and write in their own language where ever they could; in the garage of their home and under the bridges where the poor lived. Because of the need to offer basic education to these children and to ensure they had food, clothing and a safe study environment, in 2002, the D.A.V.I.D. Boys Educational Program was added. Also in 2002, the Jason’s Home Program was added to address the many children that were being brought to Gentle Hands needing short-term medical intervention, and rehabilitation. In 2003, Gentle Hands was licensed and registered with the Department of Social Welfare and Development as a Residential & Child Residential Facility.

In December of 2005, the birthing clinic was closed in order to make space for the many children that needed rescuing and rehabilitation and for the many boys that needed to be educated. In October of 2008, the decision was made to close the Boys Program and focus solely on the Jason’s Home and the Foster Care Program for the children.

Charity and Evan continue to serve the Philippines in various roles. Charity is Executive Director of Gentle Hands Inc. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Lee University in Christian Ministries. In 2013, she received her Master’s in Social Work from Asian Seminary for Christian Ministries, and finished her Master’s thesis entitled “Social Work and Caregiver Practices that Promote Attachment of Children Who Have Experienced Trauma”. Charity also has attended extensive trainings and seminars on on trauma, attachment, and play therapy. She believes strongly in providing holistic interventions to children who come from trauma and advocating for the rights of children and the poor. As Executive Director, Charity oversees all aspects of Jason’s Home and Baby Ann’s Mission, including case management, staff trainings and management, daily operations, education, counseling, teams and volunteers, medical unit, rescue, rehabilitation, reunification, foster care, and adoption. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting.

Evan works as a full-time high school teacher at Faith Academy, an international school for the children of missionaries. He serves as a basketball coach, and is a leader and mentor for many students. Charity and Evan have six children: Jason, Noah, Elijah, Merry Faye, Sarah Joy, and Colin. All are avid coffee drinkers (except for Colin, who enjoys Sprite).

Our International Ambassadors and Fundraising Coordinators

Nathan and Pip Wheeley were both born and raised in Brisbane, Australia. They have three children, Roel, Noah and Levi. Nathan and Pip began their journey with Gentle Hands in 2014 when they travelled to the Philippines to meet their son, Roel. He is the eldest of their three sons.

They are both qualified teachers. Nathan has a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Economics and Literary Studies. Pip also holds a Bachelor of Education (Elementary) and a Bachelor of Leisure Management majoring in Sport and Event Management. They also have extensive experience with children who have a history of abuse and trauma in their roles as registered foster carers.

Nathan and Pip made the move to live in the Philippines at the beginning of 2016. During this time, they have served as Heads of Orphanage, Education and Curriculum Coordinators, and, most importantly, simply loved and ministered to the children in their care. They are both deeply passionate about serving disadvantaged children in the Philippines.

In 2017, Nathan and Pip moved into full time ministry with Gentle Hands. They have two main roles. The first of these is Gentle Hands International Ambassadors. This involves sharing the vision and heart of Gentle Hands with people from around the world. Through this, they aim to create awareness of God’s mission for the ‘least of these’ and to draw people into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. Their second role is Fundraising Coordinators for Gentle Hands. Through this fundraising platform they desire to form partnerships with people and organisations who share in the vision and heart of Gentle Hands Ministries.